In the Russian settlement of Nizhny Lomov, a court ruled that 80-year-old pensioners must pay alimony to their own grandson instead of their deceased son. Because of the court decision the old couple lived from hand to mouth for several months.
It was a real shock for Ivan and Kseniya Kuznetsov when officers of justice came to their place and said they must pay 20,000 rubles of alimony (a bit more than $700) to their 18-year-old grandson. The sum turned out to be immensely huge as the pensioners had only one source of income - their insignificant pension.
The old couple was summoned to court soon after their son Nikolay died. The man failed to apply himself in life and took to alcohol which in the end became the reason of his death at a rather young age. Nikolay’s wife did not want to live with the alcoholic and divorced her husband. In the first years after divorce Nikolay regularly paid alimony. He gave up paying alimony when alcohol gripped his mind and senses absolutely.
When faced with the problem of paying alimony, Ivan Kuznetsov decided to sell one half of an old house the old couple inherited after the son’s death. But Nikolay’s adult children living in the other half of the old house would not wait till the house is sold and the old man has money to cover the debt. They demanded that alimony must be paid very quickly. A good sum of money, 2,700 rubles ($100) was stopped from the pensioners’ modest budget every month.
The old woman tells that for several months when they had to pay alimony they lived on Lenten soup and potato. The meager food undermined the old man’s health; he fell ill with flu in winter and went deaf because of the aftereffects of the illness.
It was a hard thing for the pensioners to realize they were paying alimony. They were ashamed to look into the eyes of other villagers. By this moment the pensioners have already paid the entire sum of the alimony. But they still cannot understand how the court obliged the poor old people pay the alimony instead of their deceased son.
This sounds a paradox but it is a hard task for officers of justice in Russia to levy alimony from healthy and well-off fathers who divorced their wives and abandoned families with children. Hundreds of thousands of women in Russia have to bring up children alone without any assistance from their ex-husbands. Well-off men wearing expensive clothes and driving good cars who evade paying alimony present fake documents saying they are paid trifling sums. Consequently, alimony their children get is insignificant. There is no chance for women to defend their rights in this case.
Lawyers say it is an exclusive instance when the court ruled that alimony must be deducted from old people’s pension. In this particular case, the pensioners inherited the son’s alimony debt together with one half of the son’s old house.
Statistics says that today just twelve percent of divorced fathers pay alimony to their children. The strictest sentence passed on fathers evading paying alimony in Russia was a suspended sentence for two years only. There is no precedent in Russia of levying forfeit from divorced fathers for the delay in alimony payment.
Translated by Maria Gousseva